There is a multitude of different football jersey manufacturers. Puma, Nike, Adidas, UnderArmor, Umbro, New Balance, the list goes on and on. Are there good ones and bad ones? Does it make a difference whether or not a jersey is Authentic so we have to pay an extra 50$? Believe it or not, the answer is yes. With all of these different brands signing contracts with different teams, how can we know what the best ones are? There are subtle differences in every company that make them more comfortable, durable, and most importantly stylish.
First, let's start with our beloved 5 Stripes. Atlanta is of course under an agreement with Adidas. The same company that makes my beloved Spanish National Team Kits. This year Atlanta United's kit is one of my favorite jerseys of all of my collections. The material is super comfortable to wear, it absorbs sweat when you are burning up cheering on United, and also keeps you looking good for all of the other folks around. Adidas makes a quality product when it comes to their soccer kits. The material is perfectly balanced and does not pinch in the wrong places, and there are sizes for everyone. Adding in the star for our MLS victory makes them even more stylish, along with the black and red stripes on the back. I always add a name on the back. This is because I want to remember everything about that year, and having the name gives you a connection to the team or your favorite individual player.
There is a second part to all of this though. Most regular fans do not realize there is a stark contrast between the "Replica Jersey", and the Authentic. Since I started a serious collection, I decided to buy nothing but authentic jerseys. It does hurt a little bit when you pay the kind gentlemen at the counter 150$ for a soccer kit. Trust me when I say that there is a huge difference. When you buy authentic you are purchasing almost exactly what the players are wearing on the field. This is why they are so much more comfortable, and why other football enthusiasts will often notice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying the replicas, they look almost identical to the naked eye, but there are differences.
One that I have continually noticed is that most non-authentic kits tend to have issues with strings of fabric or stitching being pulled out. This has happened to countless numbers of my friends, as well as many of my own. Oddly enough that is not the case with every manufacturer. I found an old Arsenal Jersey about 2 years ago at Dicks Sporting Goods on sale for 20$, sold. That jersey is equally as comfortable as nearly all of my authentic ones, and it is indeed a replica. This particular Arsenal Kit was made by Puma. Next to Adidas, they are my favorite brand. I also found an Italy National team jersey that is made by Puma which is equally comfortable. The price paid for that one, 20$. Neither of them has names on the back, but I try to remedy that whenever I can find a place that will add a name on the back. With these Puma kits I have never had the issues with fabric pulling, and they are fantastic at keeping yourself cool. At the outlets up past Woodstock, I also found a Borussia Dortmund Jersey that has the same characteristics. Great durable jerseys that I love wearing when I am looking for something to wear.
Nike also makes a very quality Kit. I am half Catalan so every time I go to Spain I buy a new Barcelona Jersey for the upcoming year. I have a Usman Dembele and a Lionel Messi that are two of the most comfortable ones that I own. They do not pull, they do not stretch, and they have that same fit that almost makes you feel like you are wearing a NikePro. Some of the kits are replicas from the days when I would not spring the extra 50 bucks for authentic ones. Many of them have small pulls in them, but that is not the worst part. The numbers and nameplate that are on the back stick to your back when you sit down for an extended period...Like at a football match for instance. Perhaps I am just weird, but that stickiness drives me crazy. They still look great, but they have never felt to me like they are truly football kits, but more of a shirt that has been made to look like a jersey at a lesser price. Unfortunately, you certainly can tell you get what you pay for.
I realize that not everyone can afford authentic jerseys. I can't afford them all the time and many are gifts, but if you are buying your kid his first United Jersey, for instance, I would suggest going for the authentic, as it will always have great memories attached, you will be looking stylish, and they last forever. Replicas have a bad habit of having the numbers slowly shear off over time, which almost defeats the purpose of buying the kit. That fact along with how they stick on your back are reasons why I try to avoid them unless they are at a price I can't refuse.
In Pasadena when I was working for one of my old companies I had a soccer shop right across from the hotel I was staying at. I went down there to check out the wears. I found a replica Euro 2016 Spain kit that I love. It has no name on the back of it, and it is extremely comfortable. So although the Authentic kits are more comfortable, without the names and numbers on the back it certainly adds to the comfort and looks factor.
My first United Jersey was from the inaugural year. My wonderful girlfriend bought it for me for Christmas. It is an Almiron Jersey, and like all the other authentic United ones I have, it lists in my top 5 favorites. Sometimes you get lucky if you know where to shop and can find an authentic one for a good price. I was lucky enough to find a very old Chelsea neon yellow jersey that was from back whee E'to played for the club. Although it is old, it is still very comfortable.
Under Armor makes a great product as well. I was lucky enough to find a Spurs kit with Kane on the back for 35$, and I would say next to Adidas they certainly make the most comfortable jerseys. The numbers never wash away, and they are extremely durable.
So all and all I would recommend always trying to go authentic, especially with United Jerseys. I do not own a replica United, but I do own Adidas replicas without names, and they are fantastic to wear. I wear a jersey almost every day, so I could be a little crazy. Still, though I would not get rid of any of my jerseys, ever. If you do decide replicas are more in your price range than just don't add a name on the back. That way they stay comfortable, and you do not have to worry about any of the numbers peeling off. No matter how you spin it, any Atlanta fan looks good in any Adidas jersey whether replica or not. There is also an added benefit of knowing I am wearing what Josef Martinez is wearing scoring goals on the pitch. To me, it has always brought me a little closer to the game, and that has always meant a lot.
My first Jersey: